Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sons of Anarchy, "The Culling": I love it when a plan comes together

Spoilers for tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I play with the siren...
"I love all of ya." -Clay
The previous two episodes of "Sons of Anarchy," "Balm" and "Service," took the show to a new creative level. Based on those two shows, and the general momentum of a cable drama season - where the dramatic peak is often in the penultimate episode - I had high hopes for "The Culling."

Instead, I found myself oddly disappointed by it.

I wrote last week that part of what made "Service" so powerful was that all these big moments and revelations were coming from the characters. There was a story there, but everything that happened - whether it was Tig confessing to Opie, or Opie confronting Stahl, or Clay letting Chibs and Piney slide on their crimes against the club - clearly started off with a question of, "How would this character, given his personality and recent events, react to this?"

There was a visceral quality to it all that I found lacking in "The Culling," which felt more like a chess game than a street fight. Kurt Sutter and Dave Erickson's script efficiently moved all the pieces into place, then blew up the board a few times with the arrests of Weston, Zobelle and Polly. Some of it was fun, particularly the club getting over on Stahl (and Ally Walker's performance as Stahl epically lost her cool), and perhaps at an earlier stage in the series' lifespan I would have loved watching all the tumblers click into place. But after the richness of the last two episodes, the sheer plot-intensiveness of "The Culling" felt a bit empty. Necessary, given all that had happened this season, but not nearly as deep as what had come immediately before.

I guess I find the internal struggles of the club more compelling than wars with external enemies like the Mayans and LOAN. "Service" focused entirely on the former, then healed the club to the point where SAMCRO as one could deal with the latter in "The Culling."

And for an episode that was so plot-y, I'm still not sure I understand exactly what SAMCRO's plan was. If, as Clay and Jax decided last week, they intended to "kill 'em all," then why bother with the brawl at the timberlands? Is that really what they were going to use their manpower advantage created by their alliance with the Niners and the Triad just to pick a fistfight with Weston and his best goons? A fight that, even with the various levels of badassery at hand in the combined Charming and Tacoma chapters of the club, they weren't guaranteed to win? Why not lure them out there, disarm them and then put a bullet into everyone's shaved head?

Now, some of this can be ascribed to the ongoing tension between Hale and Unser, and Unser's conflict between serving his friends and serving the law. Perhaps the plan involved a righteous beating and then a cold execution, whether SAMCRO won or lost the fight itself, followed by a trip into town to use Polly to lure Zobelle out of hiding. But while the move to screw over Stahl, get the guns and save Chibs from Jimmy O's retribution worked like clockwork, I'm having to contort myself to figure out how the LOAN half of the campaign was supposed to work.

The more interesting - and, at times, unsettling - part of the episode dealt with the role that the club plays in the lives of its members. The opening sequence, with everybody going to the mattresses - and the realization that SAMCRO takes everybody (kids, wives, old ladies, two-fingered friends) to the mattresses with them - and Clay giving a speech to the assembled crowd, showed the power that the club has. We need to see that power, and that sense of community, every now and then so we understand why it is people like Jax and Opie are trying to save the club instead of burning it to the ground.

But if the show usually dances around the question of whether it considers the club a good or a bad thing - or whether it's willing to judge the club at all - the scene with Tara smacking around Margaret felt uncomfortably in favor of Clay and Gemma's vision of SAMCRO. The whole scene, and particularly the "No, this is assault" moment, seemed structured to get the audience pumping their fists - Let's watch Tara show that snooty administrator lady who's boss! - and yet I was mostly horrified by it. For all that "Sopranos" fans wanted Dr. Melfi to sic Tony on her rapist, David Chase was always clear that Melfi was the closest thing the show had to a representative from real society, and in a society of rules, that stuff's just not done.

Now, Tara occupies a different dramatic space on this show than Melfi did on "Sopranos." She grew up around the club, is dating a member, taking care of his baby and befriending the club's matriarch. Perhaps I was meant to be horrified by her actions in that scene, and one of the storylines of season three (if not the finale) will be Tara recognizing that perhaps she's adopted more of the club's morality than she wanted to. But if this is just the next step into her ascension to Gemma's throne, and something meant to be applauded, then I'm going to have a problem with it.

But we'll have a better sense of that - and of how (or if) Jax and Clay can still get their righteous vengeance if all their targets are behind bars - in next week's finale. Even though I didn't love "The Culling," I still have very high hopes for what's to come.

Some other thoughts on "The Culling":

• The show has more or less dropped the tension over the club members getting their bail revoked, Oswald losing his land, etc. Even with his recognition that LOAN is worse for the town than SAMCRO, wouldn't Hale at some point in this episode have just thrown Jax, Clay and others back into jail for violating the terms of their release?

• Last season, Jay Karnes did a multiple episode guest stint as Agent Kohn, and we have our second "Shield" regular turning up as an "SoA" guest star, as Kenny Johnson pops up as the Tacoma charter's version of Tig. Predictably, the two hate each other, though I thought it a nice touch that Tig is too messed-up by recent developments to even care about whatever their feud is about.

• As mentioned previously, the explanation for what happened to Chuck and Darby in the Caracara fire had to be cut for time from "Fa Guan." We got half an answer here, sort of, in that Chuck turns up alive and mostly well at the clubhouse, and continues to be a useful friend to the club. But where exactly has Chuck been in between the fire and now? And what happened to Darby? If he died, wouldn't Hale have also charged Weston with murder? If not, where the hell is he?

• I have to commend whoever was responsible for the work on Chuck's mutilated hands. Not sure if that was a prosthetic or something digital, but it worked. I had just assumed they would keep him in the gloves all the time, as that's an easy way to hide the actor's non-amputated fingers and thumbs.

What did everybody else think?

126 comments:

Byron Hauck said...

I agree. This was the first episode I watched live after catching up over the last 10 days, and I felt that it suffered from the same lack of "oomph" that this whole season has, excepting the three episodes preceding this one.

RSG said...

I too had a serious struggle with Tara's behavior to the administrator...I found it to be cruel and unnecessary and I hope that this is not where they're going in the long term with her character. Overall, a decent ep, but not as great as last two, though often the piece-moving episodes aren't always the strongest.

One thing has been bugging me over the last couple weeks. I believe they changed Weston's tattoo (at the base of his throat) from a Swastika to something else. Any idea why? And what is the new symbol?

Can't wait to see where the season ends up...

Mark B said...

Power and Privilege IS a chess game. This episode was brilliant game theory.

Anonymous said...

It worked for me. After a whole season of seeing SAMCRO on their heals, an episode devoted entirely to them going on the offensive and getting things right was enjoyable. The scene with SAMCRO riding to the fight was one of my favorite visual of the season.

Jake said...

I think the umph was there..it was just a different umph...I think they want Weston in particular to hurt..And what better way than to beat him down and then put a bullet in his head...Cops broke things up before that could happen..

Things certainly have turned...I don't think everything will wrap up nice and cleanly..Even SutterInk said that..Drama doesn't always get wrapped up in real life..

Justin said...

Weston's neck tattoo has always been a rune of some sort - it's a white supremicist symbol.

alynch said...

I thought the brawl was really poorly done. Dramatically speaking, it was like a pro wrestling match in how all the "good guys" are arbitrarily better fighters than all the "bad guys." I mean really? Every single white supremacist turns out to be a really shitty fighter?

Alan, you're completely right about the Tara scene. It reminded me of the rape scene from Rescue Me in how tonally fucked up it was.

Visan said...

The episode worked for me! It was the more "cerebral" part of SAMCRO at work. That's cool with me! Tara smacking around that hospital admin was the highlight for me!!! One reason I enjoy SOA is the fantasy element, and I'm one person who has fantasized about giving some annoying "higher up" a beat down! In real life, I'd never advise that, but on TV it was a lovely sight to see!

Scott said...

LEM! Holy *&%$ it's Lem!

The scene at the hospital didn't work. Aside from the obvious moral questions, it just didn't work on a visual level. Maggie Siff can't pull of physical intimidation and she looked the more scared of the two throughout the scene. And the boss lady who is pretty confident as the domineering one caved way too quick. The only part of Tara's outburst that could have been legitimately scary was her speech about how SAMCRO controls everything, but by then she was already cowed. I didn't buy it.

Either that was intentional and Tara will come to realize that she doesn't have what it takes to walk in Gemma's shoes, or it wasn't intentional and Sutter and co. will realize that she doesn't have what it takes to pull that off and take the story in a different direction. Either way it kind of ruined the momentum in the episode for me.

But let's keep our eye on the ball. LEM!

Jersey said...

"I was mostly horrified by it"
I agree Alan, Tara works in the "real world" where this is unacceptable. The verbal threat, the brandishing of the weapon I found plausible but the chocking, shoving and the assault is where she lost me.

My head is still spinning and I will be back later with more because I did think it was a great episode and it was a payoff for all of the surveillance and intel the club has obtained.

Not sure how much time lapse between season 2 and 3 but in about a month Sack gets a patch - something hopeful to look forward too.

@RSG Weston's tattoo has always been an upside down peace sign which is a white supremacist symbol

alynch said...

In real life, I'd never advise that, but on TV it was a lovely sight to see!

Threatening to murder someone's children is lovely?

Tom said...

Tara's scene with the administrator is troubling for a couple of reasons. First off, she's buying into Gemma's "you're a healer" argument, which might sound innocent, but really translates to "You've been chosen by God to do this." Thinking that way never leads to good things.

Aside from that, are we supposed to think that Tara's "finally" showing some backbone? Because that's never been in question.

Visan said...

@alynch: Again, for me, SOA is great drama and I can detach the show from the real world. So, IMO, watching some annoying admin threatened, who has been riding Tara's *** all season, even more than Jax, I applauded the scene.

JMO, Maggie Siff is one of those actresses who carries herself in a very strong, "I'll cut ya" manner, so I totally bought her turn as a "gangtress!"

To each their own....

Mark B said...

Tara punching out the administrator is my favorite scene in this excellent episode. The opening establishes the Medieval reality of needing to call all your loved ones to group safety. Gemma then teaches Tara the meaning of Queen in Royal society. Only then does Tara practice, perhaps with the awkwardness of a novice, the use of power. Power of person over person is the balance of brute force over protection. Morality and emotions are merely bystanders.

Anonymous said...

I was also uncomfortable with Tara smacking the administrator, but I think we were meant to be so. I thought the scene was included so that in the midst of this heroic riding off into battle (against white supremacists, no less) episode, we would be reminded that these people intimidate and can be pretty cruel in running Charming. If Tara had only talked back or even just slapped the admin, I think it would have been a little more ambiguous whether we were supposed to cheer her on, but for me, the terror in the admin's eyes, the threat to her kids, and the bloodiness of that punch made it pretty clear that we were seeing Tara take it too far.

Anyone else notice the sloppy on-the-mouth kiss between Zobelle & Polly? Is this the first we're getting of a creepy father-daughter vibe?

Rabble Rouser said...

-Yes, WHERE is Darby? This is not a thread that should be left hanging.

-I was getting goosebumps as the mc road out to the "Timberlands" and thought the show was finally going to give the payoff I had been looking for all season, but NNNNOOO, Deputy Chief Wet-Blanket had to show up and ruin my dream. Then Deja Vu in the Cigar shop.

Pretty Disapointed in this Ep.

-RR

HautieTx said...

What the hospital administrator had been doing is bullying Tara. Being a mean mouth b*tch will eventually lead to you getting punched.

Tara 1
Hosp. Admin. 0

For me it all goes back to the saying, "don't let your mouth write a check your ass can't cash". That admin lady learned what happens when you get mouthy for no good reason.

Love love love seeing Kenny Johnson! Since Saving Grace ended production, I am happy to see him come on over to SOA. Now if they brought Walt Goggins on over...

I was not disappointed in the story telling tonight. For me it is the set up episode for the finale. Lots of loose strings to be tied up next week.

Like where the hell is Darby.

Anonymous said...

The tattoo on Weston's neck is that of the National Alliance:

http://www.adl.org/hate_symbols/groups_national_alliance.asp

"The "Life Rune" was a character from the Runic Alphabet which signified life, creation, birth, rebirth and renewal. The "Life Rune" symbol was also used by the Nazis on the graves of SS soldiers signifying the soldier’s date of birth (while the "Death Rune," an upside-down "Life Rune," was used to signify date of death)."

Stephen said...

Was my episode the only one to cut off early from recording? I got to see Clay and SAMCRO enter the cigar shop but nothing after that.

Jersey said...

@Anon 12:03 thanks for the info on Weston's tattoo I had come across the image before but I couldn't remember the correct terminology

HautieTx said...

Another thought.

Everyone so traumatized over Tara's behavior. Yet nothing for the two Hispanic girls that Weston shot, in cold blood, in the back.

Which in my own personal opinion was a brutal act against two females that had not done a thing to harm Weston.

Even his own comrade got shot point blank in the head by Weston.

But that seems okay.

But Tara punching a bully in the face gets all attention. I find that interesting.

Anonymous said...

I think the episode was an hour and change, so if you only recorded for an hour, that would explain it. Fortunately my dvr noticed the overlap.

Anonymous said...

Weston shooting the two women was horrible, to be sure, but I think the reason that there's so much more talk about Tara here is that there's much less ambiguity about Weston - he's a white supremacist, participated in gang-raping Gemma, etc. so the shooting is not so shocking for his character. However, violence from Tara was more unexpected, and possibly indicative of some change in her character.

Derek said...

I've completely bought in to this show, so of course I loved this episode. There's just one thing that's nagging at me. It's the Batman problem.

Batman is this fucked-up antihero who we root for partially because he never kills anyone. Because, if he did, he'd cross some line with the audience.

Here in SOA, we're told over and over again what badasses the SAMCRO guys are, but the writers still seem reluctant to show them commit murder.

So in this episode, when Jax is finally about to kill Weston, I thought, here we go, Batman problem. If Jax kills Weston, can I still root for him? (Answer: Fuck yes, but I'm not everybody.)

And so, of course, Hale arrives and rescues Weston, rescuing the audience from having to watch our hero commit murder (totally justified murder, but murder nonetheless).

Okay, fine. But then, 10 minutes later, just as Clay is about to kill Zobelle, once again the law sweeps in to prevent it. For a show where the police have been completely incompetent for two seasons, this is a surprisingly good run of luck for them, dontcha think?

You can play that card once in an episode, but twice? That strains believability for me.

(Aside on the Batman problem: The Shield blew this up right away by showing antihero Mackey kill an innocent man in the first episode. They then spent seven seasons wrestling with the repercussions of that act. I'm wondering if Sutter and crew aren a little gun shy because of it.)

David said...

Re: the Tara smackdown kerfuffle -- I don't think there's anything to worry about, at least when it comes to the SOA powers-that-be not following through on the ramifications of this act. If anything, the mixture of triumph and disgust that the scene inspired reminded me a lot of the same push/pull trick The Shield managed to turn every time the Strike Team got one over on any number of adversaries -- as awesome as it was to see Vic get away with something, he often got away with a whole lot of heinous stuff (even when it meant doing the right thing). And they definitely didn't forget to dole out appropriate amounts of collateral damage when that bill came due.

Not to try and guess what Sutter & co. have planned, but it wouldn't surprise me if Tara gets her own comeuppance for going too far w/ this threat. In some ways, that over-the-top power play's just a culmination of the spiritual erosion & moral compromise she's been grappling with, & slowly succumbing to, ever since she came back to Charming & let the Sons (back?) into her life.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous, I also thought the kiss between Zobelle and Polly was very strange. Maybe she is not really his daughter but if she is UGH!( He seemed jealous about her sleeping with the irish dude)I would never kiss my daughter like that. The Tara scene was very shocking for me but if she going to be the "old lady" of a biker might as well live up to it.

Brian said...

If Tara is the pseudo-Ophelia, then this is her first step into "madness". Of course the visceral first reaction is "f*@$& ya!" as who hasn't wanted to deck a supercilious, sanctimonious pencil-pusher that lords over you with unearned power. It's the erosion of her psyche that is going to be the cost rather than some external threat.

redwhimsy said...

Although I found the hospital admin scene jaw-dropping, I wasn't repelled by the actions. I did find it oddly blocked, and that didn't play well for me.

I also kind of wish that Tara would have found a sneakier way to get one over on the administrator, like blackmailing her or something to that effect.

Now, I did have a problem with how pat some of the club's actions were.

Fantasy aside, there is a logic and structure to the the show. I believe that Mr. Sutter and company want us to buy into this world. But, I thought Alan made some excellent points.

Why have the club locked up if none of that ever comes back on them (although it may come back later, and I hope it does)? I'm sure Hale could have arrested Clay at the very least for brandishing the gun in the cigar shop(anyone help me with what type of gun Clay had).

The show portrays Stahl as a fairly crafty individual, yet she doesn't learn from the actions of the missing witness from last season? Why on earth would all the feds leave the safe house without keeping at least one car behind to surveil the place, just in case? I certainly wouldn't have taken Edmond's word that Jimmy in the SUV at carte blanche.

Since I love this show and still enjoyed this episode quite a bit (yes, that includes the assault, god help me), I'm sure that the finale will wrap up a lot of this.

I do have to also commend how they chose to deal with Hale's character. He believes in the law and seemed extremely conflicted, but he also took actions that seemed completely consistent with who he is.

I also believe the Jimmy O doesn't believe Chibs is innocent of this for one second. We'll see how that plays out.

Anonymous said...

@ Hautie Tx Well I think the Tara thing was a complete suprise while Weston killing two Mexicans is right up his alley.

Kimmy said...

Had to pack first after the show.

The reality of this show is what makes Sons of Anarchy works.

As they are patching Chucky up, we learn he saw the arsonist. In order to secure the financial red tape by the insurance, Chuck had to make a statement. Life seems to creep up and mess up the plan! Otherwise it would be too picture perfect!

I didn't struggle at all with the Tara moment. This entire season has been about, "My HOMETOWN." Gemma protects her FAMILY, Tara had to protect her SERVICE. Tara wasn't going to outwit the administrative dimwit. She couldn't talk her way out of why she bent the rules of ethics. Tara had to do what she had learned. Take back her status by force.

Hale was what I think Charming fans wish would have been swayed by the club. But he stayed true to form. Hale is a good guy WITHIN THE LAW. If he would have turned his head to allow the law to be broken, Hale would have suffered more. Zobelle played that card, and although we as fans wished he didn't.

This wasn't the postcard ending Sopranos fans were bored with of Season 6a.

IN SUTTER WE TRUST.

The real excitement is waiting to see how the Sons of Anarchy take back their hometown.

P.S. Someone slap Polly again!

Anonymous said...

I think This whole Jimmy O/ Chibs thing will be a big part of season 3. should be interesting!

Visan said...

That hospital admin always approached Tara, even in prior episodes, in a very condescending manner, as if, no matter what degrees Tara held, she was still some guttersnipe. That hospital woman dissed Gemma, a mother figure to Tara, and that seemed to be what really set that off.

Like some others, I too find it odd that Tara's smack down got more commentary than other scenes, such as that creepy as hell kiss between Zoebelle and his kid! That was just...yuck!

Christy said...

I read the Tara vs. the Administrator scene differently. This was Tara saying "I'm all in." She made a choice. She can no longer pretend innocence, can no longer pretend she belongs only to the septic hospital world, untouched by SAMCRO.

'Sides. Isn't the conventional wisdom that bullies back down when punched back hard?

alynch said...

But Tara punching a bully in the face gets all attention. I find that interesting.

It's not the act itself that's the problem. It's how it's presented. Weston's actions were presented as a horrible person doing horrible things. Nothing new there. On the other hand, Tara threatening the administrator's children was presented as a moment of triumph, something cheerworthy.

Christy said...

STERILE, I meant "sterile" not septic. Pardon, my Freudian slip is showing but damned if I know what it means.

Matt said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was disappointed.

-SOA is supposed to be a murderin', outlaw MC. LOAN is supposed to be a violent, murderin' white supremacist organization. The One-Niners are supposed to be a violent, drug-dealin', murderin' street gang. Ditto for the Lin Triad. Yet the master plan for dealing with LOAN and Weston is Jets v. Sharks II? All these bad people show up with automatic weapons just to guarantee a fair fight?! When did we switch from Hamlet to West Side Story? Total bullshit.

-"My badge still outranks your badge?" Deputy Chief Hale is apparently the most incompetent honest law enforcement officer since...hell, I dunno, he's just awful. He finds a bunch of known criminals, out on bail, surrounding a man he knows they want to kill, who is on his knees with a gun to his head, and "my badge still outranks your badge" flies? If Hale were half a cop he would've busted everyone at the site of the rumble for something. But assuming he didn't, he certainly would've at least tried to arrest everyone in the cigar shop, including Unser. Again, total bullshit.

-I wasn't that horrified by the scene with Tara and the administrator, mainly because Tara has been in a long, slow slide into SAMCRO morality for a long time. I've always found the whole Tara story line a tad implausible, but taking it at face value this development didn't shock me that much.

Hautie, no one is up in arms about Weston's murders because we already knew Weston was a vicious son-of-a-bitch with no compunctions about violence. We expect those sorts of people to commit murders. Tara was acting out of character, though, as I said, not in a way that I personally found very surprising.

NoMoreVegas said...

I loved seeing Kenny Johnson, as I missed him from his Lem days. I hope that he gets to come in on more future storylines, as I don't see how he can be integrated in as a regular with Tig's character in place.

I found this episode more satisfying, because SAMCRO had been beaten up for so long at the hands of Zobelle, the Aryans, and the Mayans. While I agree that the prior two eps were superior from a dramatic standpoint (though the sheer amount of revelations and healing on the SAMCRO side was too voluminous to feel organic from a storyline standpoint for me and detracted from their dramatic impact as a result), the payoff from seeing the Sons finally strike back made the episode very satisfying.

I know Tara's scene has got some folks feeling like it's a stretch - and initially, I felt the same way. But after ruminating on it a bit, Sutter & Co. have put in some time showing Gemma slowly indoctrinating Tara into club life as "Jax's old lady." They became closer over Gemma's rape early on, then Gemma showed Tara shooting the car of a potential rival for Jax's affections at Gemma's gentle prodding - plus had sex with Jax in the bathroom at Caracara right in front of the same girl (I figure most women with Tara's background aren't normally willing to engage in public sex). The groundwork was laid by Sutter for this scene. All of these factors, plus the stress Tara would have been under by the club going to the mattresses, plus the possibility of losing her job (which for many people is typically a significant part of one's self-identity)...all that Tara needed was one more slight push to set her off, which the administrator conveniently furnished. The only thing that bothered me was that Siff had played the character leading up to that providing few clues that Tara was a ticking bomb...while that might be a conscious character choice, I don't know for sure.

Zobelle's kiss with Polly was just a bit too much. That definitely stood out to me too. Plus, the fight being so one-sided in favor of SAMCRO was absolutely ridiculous and typified the kind of absurd action I don't like to see in storytelling that has been so sophisticated thus far.

I was amused by seeing Henry Rollins' kids get sent away, but was surprised to see them so docile as they were being taken by Child Services, especially once their father showed up.
I was kind of surprised Zobelle didn't get killed by Henry Rollins' character - I figure that "race traitors" would be perceived to be just as bad as those of other races.

As far as the issue of why not everyone was killed, I understand the logical gaps that Alan brings up, but I also think it would have been far beyond even Unser's capabilities to bury so many murders had SAMCRO wiped out the Aryans. I think they would have been satisfied to kill Zobelle for sure, and maybe a few Aryans (especially the culprits for Gemma's rape), but they can't let the body count get out of control.

I cannot wait to see who Zobelle got additional protection from...and want to know what happened to Darby! I feel like if Sutter had an additional episode to work with this season, there would have been a lot fewer gaps to deal with. I'm looking forward to seeing Stahl be one step behind for the second season in a row and see how Jimmy O handles his lieutenants. Speaking of that, the dead rats in the boxes were hilarious.

I hope Sutter can surprise us with something we don't see coming (but is still reasonable within the constraints of the characters and story). Even something like Unser dying would be a tremendous setup for the next season, dealing with the aftermath and loss of an authority figure that is so sympathetic to SAMCRO.

Brian said...

Not sure why everyone is fixated on the bail situation. Charming PD isn't necessarily going to be the enforcer of out-of-jurisdiction bail restrictions. If they get picked up for a crime, the DA from the jurisdiction could try to revoke bail, but it isn't automatic that Charming PD would see them doing something and go that route.

Matt said...

Alan, the quality of your commenters is a testament to the quality of your reviews. I'm consistently impressed by the insights I find here.

Brian, I'm not sure I, for one, am "fixated on the bail situation," but to the extent that I am it's because taking down SAMCRO is Hale's avowed goal. Putting as many key members as possible back in jail prior to trial would seem to be a step in the right direction. It doesn't seem very plausible that Hale wouldn't at try to get their bail revoked, given any plausible grounds. Obviously we aren't privy to the specific conditions of their release, but it seems likely that they violated those conditions in tonight's episode.

Schwindle said...

I actually see some logic in Samcro's bid to bring down LOAN by starting the brawl. They start by jumping in the rift between Weston and Zobelle. Then, to make sure there's no chance of Weston getting a "Oh, I may disagree with Zobelle, but he's still better than Samcro" moment, they take him out of the picture altogether leaving Zobelle completely unprotected. To me, it was sort of genius because they did exactly to LOAN what Zobelle had been plotting for their downfall.

As for Tara, I don't think it was something that we were supposed to cheer on, necessarily. I think it was just the SOA writers pulling a David Simon and adding another example of the cyclical nature of life. Just as we all wonder if Unser's interactions with Clay were the same as Jax's are now with Hale, you have to wonder if Gemma started on a path similar to this so many years ago. I think ultimately, Tara will avoid that, but sometimes you have to go to extremes to know your limits.

I liked the episode and I'm just glad that Thanksgiving is this week to make the next 7 days go by a little faster until SOA's finale comes on.

Lilly said...

I am sorry but for me Tara was okay with her boss lady attacking her but when she went after Gemma and the club Tara reacted. God might want Gemma to be a protective mother to all and Tara a healer to all but Tara is also protective over her family. Its her job to take care of them, sometimes as a doctor and sometimes with a right hook.

Miranda said...

I think if SAMCRO is going to kill all those involved in Gemma's rape, Polly definitely deserves to be included. (I don't advocate killing people, at least certainly not in real life. I'm just sayin'.) That said, I was pretty horrified when it looked like Clay was going to put his gun up her vadge. Somehow, raping her (which is what that would have been) would have been more horrifying than killing her, I guess because of what it would (to me) say about Clay.

As for Tara's behavior, I was shocked by it. I took it as a huge mistake on her part, something that will come back to bite her. No fist-pumping here ... my thought was more "Oh, Tara."

Finally ... during the rumble scene, I remarked to my husband that I felt sorry for the guy who was fighting Tig ... just before Tig bit his nose off. Gaaaaah!

Sean said...

The Tara thing, I dunno. Seems to me like they HAD to do this, because she's her "apprenticeship" under Gemma has been slowly escalating since the episode where the pornstar girls were pushing her around; finally using what she has learned on someone in the world outside of Samcro was the next logical step.

For about a second in the final scene at Zoebell's cigar shop, I thought Clay was gonna threaten Polly with a gang-raping of her own (in revenge for Gemma) but then come right out with a "but we're better than that and wouldn't sink to your level" comment. Threatening to kill her worked too, but I think they missed an opportunity there.

Next week better be epic; what I thought was going to be the gang version of the O.K. Corral was just some lame biker brawl :(

Brian said...

because taking down SAMCRO is Hale's avowed goal. Putting as many key members as possible back in jail prior to trial would seem to be a step in the right direction.

I'm not so sure that is true. I think Hale is conflicted about SAMCRO. That ambiguity leaves enough room for him to look the other way, particularly with Unser there to provide cover.

cgeye said...

Yeah, I'm pretty damn shocked that the ATF had absolutely no electronic surveillance on their stoolies. You're gonna tell me LOAN had more prudence in setting up Hale with that picture of Darby handing him the envelope?

I'm also shocked that once Jax set Weston off, that he didn't do the prudent thing and stick around -- and notice the dead bodies, and call the police immediately. Wouldn't their allies in prison take care of Weston's men, or if they turn state's evidence, wait just a bit longer to execute them?

What sort of craft does it take to execute 10 white power gang members... and invite along your gang and two more, to witness it? Each a potentially disgruntled man willing to cooperate with Stahl? Each one vulnerable to Stahl's tactics? I thought they said they'd play this smart -- the only thing they did is play it brutal and fast.

As for Tara, she didn't have to touch her boss. She could have said the exact same thing, and meant it, and showed her power with no physical evidence of intimidation. Now she gets a rep -- that administrator will never go near her without flinching -- and the other doctors will possibly reduce her power through gossip, rather than build her power by letting her be the one who solves problems, sotto voce.

Tara doesn't just need power in the gang; she needs to take her separate place in the community, as Gemma has with Teller-Morrow.

And why is Zobelle asking his little bimbo about her sex with Edmond? I thought he used Polly as bait to make their relationship with the IRA closer. And he's kissing her skank-tainted fingers? Oy.

I guess I'm disappointed because they had all the tools they needed in derailing both Weston and Edmond's plans. My only question is who tipped off Hale to the rumble -- it should have been so far away that no one should have known about it. Since when does Hale know about a damn thing?

"And they know how to use them, they're not ghetto kids -- they're smart!" But I thought ghetto kids were stupid enough to gun each other down in kindergarten. Weston can't have his racism both ways....

cgeye said...

AH. Missed that scene with Hale ordering a loose tail on Jax or Clay.... which makes me wonder why he didn't catch on sooner that the Chief went all-in with SAMCRO at their compound.

Alan Forkosh said...

In general FX series have a tendency to run over. I've noticed that my TiVo usually has the episode running a few minutes over the hour. Just to be safe, I've made it a habit to pad all FX series by 5 minutes.

Note 1: The finale (next week) is being billed as 90 minutes.

Note2: Now that situation comedies have added an postscript over the credits, I usually pad them by a minute or 2. Fortunately my TiVo is a dual tuner model.

Alan Forkosh said...

According to a conversation this episode between Hale and Unser, Charming is right next to Lodi, CA (a real town--Credence Clearwater Revival got stuck there). However, if that were so, most have the action would be happening in boring flatlands and along river levees. Lodi is just east of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta with the nearest hills of any size 25 to 30 miles to the east. Also, the chaparral in the location shots is characteristic of Southern California, not Northern California.

(Southern California native now resident in Northern California)

Anonymous said...

I think the above comment on Tara was right--she's a novice at this really, & she took Gemma's advice at an emotional time too much to heart & went to far. Growth isn't always incremental. This could be a lesson from the "what not to do" column that she needed to learn.

I also think that somethings on low burn are really set up for the finale. Last episode Opie asked Jax how they could take Clay down, & Jax gave him his dad's book to read. If looks could kill Opie's glare at Stahl in the cigar shop would have vaporized her. I don't think for a second he's moved on. Weston & Zoebelle are now both in jail, presumably in the same place, & most likely with some really pissed of Mayans & equally vengengeful Browns, etc... And no way blondie doesn't get some comeuppance for her role in Gemma's rape. But maybe not from SAMCRO--the IRA knows her boy's a rat. And there's something gnawing me that Unser has a bigger role in how this all plays out the we realize now. Can't wait for the finale!

Jim Treacher said...

The whole scene, and particularly the "No, this is assault" moment, seemed structured to get the audience pumping their fists - Let's watch Tara show that snooty administrator lady who's boss! - and yet I was mostly horrified by it.

Huh.

GO, TARA, GO!!!

The brawl was the dumbest fistfight since the end of Lethal Weapon. Meaning: I liked it.

Hyde said...

I was less startled by Tara striking the bureaucrat in anger--anyone can lose their temper after being provoked in that way--than I was that she then went on to make an explicit threat about what might happen to her and her family down the road. That seemed like a sudden leap into badassery for a woman who earlier in the same episode couldn't even throw her weight around within the SAMCRO universe without having qualms.

Anonymous said...

LOVED Tara's smackdown. She protected her "family". She defended Gemma. This was about more than her job. It was about her loyalty.

And I thought the scene was played brilliantly. In the context of the show, and the club, this makes total sense.

Alan Sepinwall said...

My other issue with the Margaret scene, and why I suspect it was designed to be cheered, is that Margaret was written as such a petty strawman villain throughout the season. She was so smug, and so dismissive of both Tara and the club, that she was someone no one would feel any sympathy for when Tara started hitting and threatening her.

Matthew said...

well, i came here to post a comment immediately, havent even finished the episode - and it seems to be a topical moment at that.

Tara threatening and bloodying the Admin lady;

This really made me cringe. I DID not like what was happening, even tho we see it coming and as Alan's comment was last before mine saying that she was made out to be so rude and snooty this whole time and everything Tara said about her was correct (admin degree, cant be a healer so she micromanages, blah blah).

However. When she pushed her, i was like yea "thats assault". But then she punched her and shit and the camera close up of her glasses off/snotty nose/bloody mouth/teary eyes/trembling lips. That hurt my feelings. Simply put I dont know how far tara had to go to scare her, did she really need to destroy the woman like that? She JUST outlaid how petty her life is even tho she doesnt know it. Wasnt a lil assault, some shoving, threats, and the gun enough?

I am sad, Tara is proper Old Lady now. Which is cool and all, but do we believe this is the real her now? I mean I believe in hers and Gemma's realtionship. but yea.

(gonna finish the ep/come read review/read comments)

Matthew said...

right. buncha stuff out there in the comments, but it seems we revolving around some of the same overarching bits. cgeye i think had some great points. anyhoo gonna try and bullet thru this since I already mentioned feeling terrible for the admin bitch in her bloody closeups. that was REAL terror. She was more scared than Stahl when opie was on her ass.

- I think sutter has left it purposefully ambivalent as to how much of the hale "interruptions" were really so. As in, if they follow the Zoebelle playbook, you plan not for your enemy's reactions, but for the law's as well. (its kinda like what we call propogation planning in the ad world). I think its clear everything Unser said to Hale was to edge him into doing what he would do.

- I think it was made pretty clear Jax is feeling quite unsatisfied. Either because there is more to come in the plan OR that his bloodlust was too strong and the look by Clay at the end was one of "we ripped their biz apart, we dont need to kill... yet".

- subpoint: if we have learnt anything from the great shows this decade is that whats due will come. The person wronged, is not necessarily the one who gets to dole punishment.

- Fuck Polly. Clay was not gonna gun-rape her. I thought Weston was going to blow her head off. Zoebelle is a sick man kissing her. I think it was clear in the fatehr daughter scene that her role WAS to get close to the business, but NOT to get sexually involved. FAIL.

- You all wondering about Darby so much? its quite possible he is the one to slit some Zoebelle throat. He isnt a current loose thread for nothing.

- AMAZING effects on whatshisface's fingers. I mean I thought I was looking at bone and raw skin stubs. Glad to know the actual actor has fingers.

- Stahl has NOT learned her lesson

- This was not the finale. There is more to come.

Danny said...

"And they know how to use them, they're not ghetto kids -- they're smart!" But I thought ghetto kids were stupid enough to gun each other down in kindergarten. Weston can't have his racism both ways....


I think your point is exactly what Weston was referring to. Ghetto kids stupid enough to shoot up kindergartens. His kids are smarter, respect guns and they could be trusted around them.

Cindy said...

I think Hale would have backed out of the cigar shop if the other two deputies had not been present. He wants Zobel gone too. Even if he is one of the good guys.

Tara...she is finally living up to the meaning of being Jax ole Lady. And leaving the up tight, whimp role that her character has portrayed. She HAS been stepping over the so called "line in the sand". She helps out with injured club members and she DID kill the FBI Agent. So, it is not so unbelievable. She may struggle a bit with it, but it is still a bit believable.

Love to see female charaters prove that she can protect herself and have a "set of her own". I was getting a bit sick of her mousy attitude. I mean really, she is the ole lady of an MC V.P., live up to it or step aside.

Cindy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

"I'm not so sure that is true. I think Hale is conflicted about SAMCRO. That ambiguity leaves enough room for him to look the other way, particularly with Unser there to provide cover."

A few weeks ago Hale was willing to let Darby cook meth inside Charming in order to destroy SAMCRO. I realize he's thought better of linking arms with that particular devil, but that's a far cry from saying that he's changed his mind about SAMCRO. If he's so conflicted, why did he have a tail assigned to Jax and Clay? And whey did he go back to the cigar shop in the first place, when it was plainly obvious that SAMCRO's toady, Unser, didn't want honest cops there? Why not just...look the other way? I don't think he's that ambivalent, yet.

Finchy said...

On the Tara giving a beatdown to the administrator....

Does it really seem inconceivable that a woman who is on the verge of losing her job due to her proximity to an organization like SAMCRO would rationalize using violence and intimidation to save her job?

"But if this is just the next step into her ascension to Gemma's throne, and something meant to be applauded, then I'm going to have a problem with it." Don't think you're giving Sutter enough credit here. I'd be shocked if in future episodes we don't see Tara struggling mightily with some of the details of her metamorphosis.

More to say on the Tara/Admin scene but I'll shut my sass hole for now. I'm at work and I'm in the mood to give my boss the beating of his life.

Jeff said...

This episode seemed to be getting the pieces in order for the finale. Just like with "LOST," sometimes there's just an episode of them trekking across the island.

I was hoping that SAMCRO knew all along that Weston/Zoebelle would get arrested... like it was part of the plan and leading to something else... but I'm not sure.

Great show, can't wait for the finale.

Anonymous said...

I liked the episode and the plan to take down Weston and Zobelle. I think it made sense to have Jax and the club take out their anger on LOAN with a good old fashioned brawl. I believe what Alan suggested was right that, win or lose, the Niners and the Chinese were there to execute them.

I was a little disappointed in the actual fight scene b/c pretty much everyone from SAMCRO beat every one of Weston's crew. I would have liked to have seen a little bit longer fight with some more back and forth with SAMCRO ultimately winning. Then, the Niners and Chinese coming in to execute. Then, Hale showing up right beforehand.

I was surprised by Tara's scene with the administrator, but it was fun to watch. Remember, Tara used to be a little badass herself back in the day. I think she's been the most dynamic character this season compared to last when she wasn't even sure she could stay in Charming and didn't really like being around the club. I think she will have moments of doubt on her way to the thrown and I don't know if Sutter will even send her there in the end. Seems like it's a little too obvious for him. If she does end up there it will be with many twists and turns along the way. Great post by No More Vegas about Tara.

In the opening scene when they were panning around the clubhouse I said to my wife, "Wasn't that Lem?" It was fun to see him again.

I think Darby did get out. It would be a waste to have him die like that with no additional story line behind it. Plus, I'm sure Hale would have charged Weston with murder if Darby was dead.

I wonder if the club already had a relationship with the Irish and Jimmy-O before Chibs was a member of SAMCRO or if him becoming a member is what opened up the Irish pipeline?

It was nice to see the club working together and on the offensive after getting put through the ringer the pretty much the entire season even if everything didn't work out perfectly in their revenge plans.

Not sure what to make of the very last image when Jax was on his bike and they showed Clay looking at him. Not sure what we were supposed to think Clay was thinking there. Any thoughts?

This site usually has very good comments but this week is especially good. I've enjoyed reading the comments as much as Alan's blog!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Not sure what to make of the very last image when Jax was on his bike and they showed Clay looking at him. Not sure what we were supposed to think Clay was thinking there. Any thoughts?

I think both of them were thinking, "What the (bleep) do we do now?" Their plan involved killing both Zobelle and Weston, and now their two targets are beyond their reach in prison. The two of them came back together, and brought the club together, specifically to get vengeance for Gemma's rape, and they appear to have failed. What now?

Rabble Rouser said...

One thing that no one has mentioned yet is that Stahl said to Edmond that her plan is to get both Jimmy O AND Clay behind bars.

Anyone else think that could be a way that they wrap up the season? Clay goes to Jail for gun running, Jax takes over as Prez and begins the revolution?

Margot said...

I think the reason Tara’s scene did not work is because it was out of character as Tara has always been a bit reserved, and when she has encountered problems she has always found her own way to a solution. Example, the woman who was coming on to Jax – she never used violence but through subtle maneuverings she was able to get her message across loud and clear. I can accept that she is now “all in” and is not looking back. But I still I think it would have been more powerful if she verbally threatened her or even trained the gun on her to show her she was serious. If she delivered those words soft and hard it would have been more compelling, a much classier approach which I expect from Tara. It seemed she herself was not comfortable with it. I could almost feel her own disgust with herself for resorting to violence or that could have also been her disgust for the woman in front of her. She did have a semi-nervous breakdown last episode so perhaps we are seeing Tara adapting to her environment and her newly realized place of power in the club. In future I am sure we will see that there is always a price to pay.

In contrast Weston was fully reacting the way his character has been set up to respond. He is the loose cannon that was intended to de-stabilize Zobelle and his crew. He hates colored people and drugs and those two women were Mexican, surrounded by drugs and Desmond was there and as soon as he told Weston what he and Zobelle were doing, he was complicit and because it was all “sanctioned” he was dispatched.

Speaking of Zobelle and Polly, I found it strange when she came back from the IRA house and Zobelle was questioning her about her feelings for the Edmond and whether they had sex. It did not seem that it was fatherly concern and I thought it was all part of his plan. Then the kiss came and I saw it clear as day. Polly had become her mother to Zobelle and I have no doubt they have a sexual relationship. And the list of reasons to hate Zobelle keep growing … what sick puppies. Clever of him to get himself arrested to save his life and that of his daughter/wife and you have to wonder if this is also a part of the plan. I am reluctant to give him too much credit though because a lot of the success of his plan has come from timing and the prior existence of other club problems which certainly helped as the club was distracted and disjointed and therefore susceptible to his many-levelled attacks.

Margot said...

The whole effect was gratifying though. After seeing SAMCRO rupture from the inside out and then heal itself from within, it was gratifying to see them united. Their plan although not perfectly executed or completely revealed to us showed that they were at least trying to be smart about this retaliation. I do not believe that they intended to kill Weston and crew after a righteous beating.
Unser is having fun despite the gravity of the situation. When he was sitting at table with SAMCRO, he looked like a kid that just kicked of his training wheels and can ride with the big boys now. If it were not for what happened with Gemma and him going through that with her, I doubt he would have had the impetus or the courage to do it. You get the feeling that he wants to do “right” or at least what he considers right before the end of his days. I wanted to see more from Hale in this “do right by Gemma and the club” vein but still stay true blue but he acts like he forgot or didn’t even know to begin with.

Did anyone else find the scene with Chibbs and Fiona touching? The pain of separation, the fear of future harm, the love that still exists ... it was pouring out of their eyes. In my head I was hearing ... let me wrap you in my warm and tender love. I feel for them and I fear for them because its not over. Jimmy O definitely did not buy the whole story. He played along to get the pipeline back on track w SOA but when he catches Edmond and his Da, he will hear about what Stahl told Edmond. All the same, all Chibbs told Stahl was the location of the IRA safehouse which she already knew because they had surveillance of Zobelle meeting them there.

I could go on and on. I love this show.

Margot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Topiary Cow said...

Maggie Siff and Tara were fantastic. Loved the spinning the barrel on the gun. Loved that she has learned something from Gemma! The evolution from refusing the coffee to “I am Jax old-lady and take crap from no one” was excellent, and nicely done.

You can't hang around with people and not be influenced by them.

Glad to see Chuck back. Funny to see him putting flyers on cars.

Rats were great.

Tired of Stahl.

The good thing about this show is for those of us who are powerless in real life, we get some escapism: Tara beats admin.

Hey it's not real life but wow was it cool!

Direct action to resolve conflicts is something we all stuck in meaningless work-a-days dream about. The co-worker shirking, the guy who sneaks into the parking space, blammo!

Loved it.

As for Stahl, Police, ATF are getting overtime and holiday pay, working for retirement, wanting to go home after 8 hours. They're not paid enough to get so personally involved, to get guns pulled on them. It's unbelivable that Stahl would not have transferred out after Opie last week, saying "I'm not paid enough for this."

Sure would be nice to see some Tara/Jax action again, they have like, completely disappeared this season.

Greg said...

I think Hale is definitely conflicted about SAMCRO, but he wants to take them down the "right way" - I think he even said something like that to Clay a few episodes back. If he arrests them for violating parole then they're out of the picture exactly according to Zobelle's plan, which was to provoke SAMCRO and then get them caught doing something illegal. Hale might have been cautiously on board with Zobelle before, but that was prior to finding out about the rape. I don't think he's capable of completely turning a blind eye, but deep down he would rather first get rid of Zobelle and only then turn his attention to taking down the Sons.

I did excited by the Tara scene, but was uncomfortable in a way that I wasn't by Season 1's top "so wrong it's right" scene, Otto's beat down of Stahl. I would like to know if Tara had this (or at least something similar) planned out or if it just happened in a fit of anger.

I think we can assume Darby is alive as no murder charges have been discussed, but why didn't Chuck say anything about him? I can't imagine that there's some sort of plan between them, but that might at least explain where Chuck was in the interim.

Scott said...

Not sure what to make of the very last image when Jax was on his bike and they showed Clay looking at him. Not sure what we were supposed to think Clay was thinking there. Any thoughts?

I took it to mean Clay had doubts about Jax again. When those two were fighting Hale's appearances were usually Jax using the law to stop Clay. Then in this episode Hale conveniently shows up both times as the club was about to administer club justice on both Weston and Zobelle, and manages to arrest them both and put a wrench in the club plans? If you're Clay even if you believed you and Jax were completely reconciled, you've got to be wondering if Jax didn't set all that up.

amanda said...

I think we're supposed to be disappointed by the episode. We have to, for the most part, "stay above" the characters to watch the plot, in the same way the characters can only really be of one mind to execute the plan. And while pieces moved around, it's uncertain what or how much satisfaction was won. Every episode can't be "Balm".
Tara's scene with the administrator made sense; she's always taken what others say to heart and tried to immediately implement it without much reflection (esp. from Gemma, but also Wendy). She's not certain of her place in Charming, the MC, with Jax, maybe even the hospital, but she knows she needs the latter and Gemma provided her with a way out that she clearly wasn't going to get otherwise. So maybe in part it was a plot contrivance, but I like that Tara appeared awkward or scared in her intimidation - she should. I don't feel the need for a character to provide a "moral center" or the "real world" POV (as such a character would still be pretty subjective), but I think Tara especially isn't that person. She struggles to be inside and outside the world, and not untouched by either side.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Tara scene, it's not that I don't believe it, or that it doesn't make sense given what we know of her character. Rather, she's had one foot in and one out for a while, and I found this scene interesting for what it could mean for her character's progression. I, for one, was disappointed (but not surprised) in her for taking the violence/intimidation route. And Alan, while I agree that the admin was set up as a petty, vile character, I think the writers' ambivalence toward Tara's actions becomes apparent when we see the terror in her face after she's pretty well bloodied and her children are threatened.

FNRosado said...

What's the music at the beginning and end of this episode? Anybody know?

Amanda said...

I disagree with your take on this episode. I think Sutters brilliant writing has struck us stupid again. It's as if he is playing with the viewers mind. This episode was EXACTLY that. If the rest of the SOA fan base is like myself you were pumped and ready for revenge, you were sitting up tense in your bed or wherever you watch it and cursing at the TV like it can actually here you. Then we were let down... It was rough watching them not get that sweet revenge we desired so badly! However this is only going to make the finale that much more intense. It's almost a game with our emotions while watching this incredible series. We are sucked in and absolved by it that it's making us go in with the up's and down's.

As for Tara's story-line... I absolutely love Tara and Jax's relationship as it is played out. I think you are right in how you say Sutter is setting it up to look like she will someday take over Gemma's thrown. If Jax is the "Prince" Tara will someday be the "Queen". Tara has been pushed around by everyone since her character came into play in Season 1. (i.e., Kohn, Prostitutes, Gemma, Administrative Bitch). It was refreshing to see her finally use her power as "Jax Tellers' Old Lady" and kick some ass. I LOVED IT!

Anonymous said...

This episode was way below par IMO.

First, while I have overlooked to a large extent the charicature that is Agent Stahl, this episode was wildly unrealistic -- to the point of stupidity for plot points.

For example -- we have a surveillance van parked directly across the street from the safehouse, and Stahl and one other agent in a car parked up the street watching. That's it.

When those two vehicles leave, the house is left unattended, such that a dozen motorcycles pull up and meet with Jimmy O who remained inside. This only works if no one is left watching the house.

And, when they pulled the Irish kid out to take him with them, no one "cleared" the house? Where was Jimmy O hiding?

Then, a few minutes later, when ATF hits the Surplus Store after SAMCRO arrives, there are half a dozen undercover cars and vans full of ATF agents that all pull up.

And, no individual ATF agent such as Stahl would have had so many failures in one investigation, with so much wasted time and moeny, and be allowed to continue to stomp around doing whatever she wanted. Whatever grounding in reality she had last season, is completely lost now.

Anonymous said...

One of the things I like so much about this show is the way it deals with moral ambiguities. No matter how much you try to do the right thing in life, you're not going to end up with karmic clean hands. Tough choices have to be made, and if you do nothing, well that has consequences too.

As to Polly, this is the first episode where I actually felt some feeling for her other than hate, and I think that's the intent. She not only showed some "real" feelings for the Irish kid (and disobeyed her father), but she also is apparently a victim of one fucked up upbringing. And throw in some incest. Not that I like her or think she shouldn't get punished for her part in Gemma's rape, but by making her more human it makes the vengeance against her all the more tricky.

Agent Stahl is another example - I mean she really is just a member of law enforcement that is trying to keep illegal guns off the street, and shut down the IRA pipeline. She steps over the line when she lets SoA or other gang members think that someone is an informant when they're not, but that's one of the things that law enforcement does to try to make their means suit their ends. It's a tribute to the writers that we dislike her so much, when you get right down to it - she's kind of on our side.

As to Tara, we were given notice early on that she was part of the SoA lifestyle as a teenager, so this is not out of the blue. I do think her behavior was way over over-the-top - I mean really, this was a over-worked hospital administrator dealing with a budget, she is hardly on the level of Weston. And she didn't deserve to have her face bloodied and her children's lives threatened when less (just a threat) would have worked. So much for the doctor's code of "do no harm". ;)

As to Hale - I think he is the most moral of all the characters and I definitely think he has become sympathetic towards Jax, if not (a teeny bit) towards the SoA in general, just because he realizes that the answers to "justice" aren't black or white, and that the best thing for Charming may be to make some peace with the Sons. You wonder if this is how Unser and Clay's relationship started out.

My bet for the finale is that vengeance will come in the way of a Weston/Zobelle/Darby showdown in either prison, or a jail cell. That would be so satisfying.

Justin said...

But isn't Jax's whole deal that he's bucking the Prince thing in some way? He doesn't want to be Clay, so we would have to assume that he wouldn't want a Queen like Gemma. As I watched the scene with Tara and her boss, I wasn't troubled, nor did I find it out of character. She does seem to be becoming vicious like the Gemma we met early in the series (a key reason it took me a bunch of episodes to warm up to this show was how over-the-top her character was). I think that once this business with LOAN is settled and Jax and Opie can refocus on changing the club, he is going to displeased with the direction that Tara, his connection to civil life, has taken.

As for the Batman problem, we have seen Jax kill. Just because it wasn't as cold-blooded as Vic killing Terry or Tony Soprano dispatching a rat on a college tour, doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Hatfield said...

Yeah, a bit of a letdown after the previous four episodes, but for me it was because of the lack of gratification. Sure, Weston and Zobelle are in jail, but we wanted them dead. I think the plan made sense, they just didn't do enough to keep Hale out of it.

My prediction for next week: Otto's revenge. As soon as Zobelle asked to be arrested, that was what popped in my mind. Sure, there was never proof that it was anyone but Georgie who killed Luann, but that won't stop Jax and Clay from manipulating the truth. Either that, or Weston will kill Zobelle.

Anonymous said...

Mm, not sure Jax would be disappointed with the route Tara is taking - don't forget how he said something like "that's my girl" when he found out Tara shot up that porn actress's car.

Jim Treacher said...

That seemed like a sudden leap into badassery for a woman who earlier in the same episode couldn't even throw her weight around within the SAMCRO universe without having qualms.

Well, letting somebody get coffee for you is different than having your entire career threatened by a petty bureaucrat who's rubbing your nose in it.

zzzdog said...

I guess I'm just a bloodthirsty fantasist with a few too many smug, bullying, untouchable bitches in my past, but I enjoyed Tara's scene. I bought it totally. For those who think she didn't have to go so far, I have to say I diametrically disagree. Once she started down that path, she had to go ALL the way to completely terrorizing her into powerlessness or Little Miss Smug Officiousness would have marshaled all her petty tyrant resources and taken Tara down for her "true colors" bleeding through; now she's scared enough not to. If you are going to break the rules of the world in which you operate, you have to break them hard enough to carve out a measure of supremacy that will prevail, otherwise you're dead meat.

I thought it was realistically organic. She'd had it with the snide, petty put-downs and she finally spat out her contempt. From there it escalated as Margaret sniped back and when she got to "biker whore" Tara pounced. I found an interesting symmetry in it in that it was Kohn calling Tara "biker whore and stupid slut" that made Jax rush him and shoot him in the head. I wonder if it was an unconscious trigger of sorts along with being disrespectful of someone about whom Tara is feeling especially protective right now. When she snapped she was coldly furious and then tremulously excited by the rush of exercising force and the power of it. It seemed wholly believable that it wouldn't be coldly smooth but it would have raw force of personality - Tara is no lightweight.

I don't think this compares to Dr. Melfi's dilemma re: sicking Tony on her rapist. Melfi was disconnected from Tony's world, not from Tony, but definitely from his world. Giving that up to effect outlaw justice would have ruined her position as 'other' in the whole equation. Tara, on the other hand, is in love with Jax. They are deeply invested in one another and she's seeing herself in this for keeps now. She can go on trying to hold herself to her old ways of operating while she gets diminished by the self-righteous (Margaret) or the profane (Ima), or she can play to her strength. Her strength now is that she is connected to people, IS a person, who won't be anyone's whipping boy. Her prior avenues of power have been compromised and she finally embraced the rogue path that is her personal world now. She's in it now.

I think we were supposed to be somewhat shocked and discomfited by it all. At the same time, I think we were also supposed to feel a visceral satisfaction too. The truth is that all too often those things co-exist. Tara's move toward embracing the outlaw way shouldn't feel admirable or advisable, but as she becomes more cornered, it should feel empowering because that's what the outlaw way is. It's acting outside the accepted when the accepted fails you. That's the "sense" of it whether it's for Jax, Tara, Tony Soprano, or Jennifer Melfi. We didn't want that for Melfi because she could exist as a whole without crossing that line. I can't say the same for Tara. Her personal world has become outlaw; she can't hold herself apart from that and still be whole.

Love everyone's comments; love your reviews Alan. Thanks.

zzzdog said...

Just wanted to add - I thought the scene between Fiona and Chibbs ached with mistakes and thwarted feelings. I'd thought she was probably an unwilling concubine to Jimmy O, and apparently that's the case; it explained a lot about Chibbs. He's been pretty remote and off hand all along.

But, what happened to Fiona after she met with Chibbs? Did she go back to Jimmy O? That was the impression I got from his comment to Chibbs, but if so, what's her status now? She said he'd kill her if he knew she'd met with him. How would Chibbs have let her go back? Yet, there was no sign of her at the clubhouse and what else would Jimmy O be referring to other than that clandestine meeting. Anyone get any impressions about that?

Mike said...

I have to commend whoever was responsible for the work on Chuck's mutilated hands.

It sure gives new light to the phrase giving someone the finger...

Anonymous said...

zzz, you changed my mind about Tara hitting that hospital administrator. Perhaps anything less would not had the effect of making her realize that Tara was serious, and the threat real. Still think that kind of action always comes back to bite you. At least in the real world.

As to Fiona, I was under the impression that Jimmy O either had her watched, or she told him herself that she had met with Chibbs. I still don't get that situation, and I'm really curious as to the reason why Gemma considers her so dangerous. I guess that's for season 3.

Tina said...

Lots has already been said, and as usual the commentary has been great. Can't wait for next week.

As for Zobelle and his daughter, I don't think it's incest, and I truly hope Sutter doesn't go there. (We really don't need to make him more evil, do we?) I saw the scene with his daughter as creepy, yes, but not incestuous. He was showing her he knew what she does even when she's out of his sight, and again this control and dominance is what he's about.

Just Asking said...

This ep. was a bit disappointing for me, too. Zobelle is a big question mark. He didn't seem believable at first but then he was portrayed as a Machiavellian genius and a formidable opponent. OK, I could go with that. Turns out he is really a whimpering idiot.

Also, can we be sure he ordered Weston to rape Gemma? Everyone thinks he did, but why are they so sure? I can't recall any lines that specifically make clear that the message Weston was supposed to send to SAMCRO was the rape of Gemma. Nor can I recall anything after that assured that Sobelle knew that is what happened. Maybe Weston was supposed to slap her around or something. And did Polly know rape was the plan? Granted, even kidnapping the pres's ol' lady and slapping her around would be enough to earn the wrath of the club, but I'm not sure the rape as a convenient evil to condemn Zobelle and Polly is justified. Maybe Sutter realized that wasn't clear so he threw in the extra few seconds of kissing his daughter to convince us it didn't matter. It is contradictory to Opie wanting the club to be sure before assuming someone is a rat.

But we do know well enough that Weston (and two others) did rape Gemma, and yet didn't Weston get a pass of sorts? Why not kill Weston like they were going to kill Sobelle - on his knees?

In other words, the man who we know raped got a pass, but the man we can't be sure ordered rape was almost killed.

One last comment. Matthew's insight on Unser and "propogation planning" could be right on. Remember Gemma told Unser she needs his help to protect the club? If Unser let it go as far as it did but no further, he is the most brilliant strategist of them all.

Another last comment. Sutter probably knew Tara smacking her boss around and threatening her would turn some viewers off. Many people must be asking themselves, do we really want anarchy?

Brie said...

I got to say, for a show about anarchy and outlaws there are a lot viewers that clutch their pearls at the first sign of its purest form in the characters.

Tara isn't new to this world. She was brought up in Charming around the club and went on to become Jax's girlfriend, no small feat I'm sure. What with Jax having the irresistible swagger that makes all the girls simultaneously swoon and drop their panties, Tara probably had her fare share of scraps in an effort to defend her turf over the years prior to her leaving.

This small background assumption, as well as little hints and glimpses we've gotten along the way (Tara telling Gemma her cat-fighting days were behind her, Jax telling Tara that she'd changed, Tara telling Gemma that she wasn't that girl anymore...), made it so that Tara lighting up her admins world wasn't something unfathomable or out of character. More than anything, it was a long time coming.

Tara's been struggling with whether or not she's in or out of the club life. Precariously walking a fine line that at any second could snap and she'd have to pick a side to land on or have it chosen for her. Last night the decision was made and she stopped her tap dancing and went full out biker chick.

Is that something that she will do every time she's faced with a problem from her on out? I highly doubt it, but it was instrumental in getting her over that indecisive hump she's been teetering on for quite some time.

It should also be pointed out that Tara didn't jump bad until after the administrator called Gemma a wh*re. Tara and Gemma have gotten close following Gemma's rape and I can see Tara looking to Gemma as a mother figure, just like the rest of the club does. On top of that, Tara's seen what Gemma went through and hearing nastiness callously thrown around about Gemma was when the gloves came off. We all have a breaking point.

Closing out, Tara is still Tara, she just stretched her new found SAMCRO muscle. Now everyone, un-bunch your collective underwear.

Brie said...

Sutter probably knew Tara smacking her boss around and threatening her would turn some viewers off.

Not anymore than Gemma's rape or Kohn's murder followed by sex with the dead body just feet away. How about an axe to the head or a skateboard to the nose? The list goes on. Of all the ruthless and shocking moments this show has had, if someone picked this one to be turned off about, then something is terribly wrong.

Just Asking said...

Of all the ruthless and shocking moments this show has had, if someone picked this one to be turned off about, then something is terribly wrong.

You're missing the point. The average viewer could relate to Tera and could understand her attraction/revulsion to that way of life. They could also empathize with the bit*h administrator while at the same time understanding wanting to smack her down. Many people are supervisors that must enforce the rules even if they aren't so bit*y about it and many people understand that is necessary. The average viewer does not condone disgruntled workers going postal and refrains no matter the desire.

In other words, the average viewer lost the connection to themselves in the story and Tera took it over the top when she said the Sons owned the cops. It is not that Tera's violence was extreme compared to other violence. Of course it wasn't. But it was extreme compared to the "normal" average viewer in the same circumstances, and Tera was, until then, the average viewer, both attracted and revolted. Many viewers were not ready to make that leap under those circumstances. Others were.

Brie said...

You're missing the point. The average viewer could relate to Tera and could understand her attraction/revulsion to that way of life.

I didn't miss the point. You didn't convey it properly.

That said, your average viewer spiel makes no sense, as we don't know a thing about how the "average" viewer feels about the show or this situation. We don't even know if there is an average viewer category for this show.

You've classified the "normal" average SOA viewer as one who could relate to Tara's struggle, so what about the ones who couldn't relate and wanted her to make up her mind? Are those viewers not normal? What about the ones who wanted her to go the way of Gemma? Are they above or below average?

I think that classifying viewers by putting them into groups of normal as opposed to irregular is a tricky thing. But maybe I'm missing this new point you are trying to make.

Oh well. Have a good night.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Now everyone, un-bunch your collective underwear.

Brie, if/when you come back here, check the attitude or please go elsewhere. Like it says in the commenting rules, talk about the show, not each other.

So Cal said...

I thought it was another brilliant episode. There was no way it was going to match the previous 2 eps, especially when Sutter and Co are setting up for the finale. This season has been so epic

Just Asking said...

Brie, by "normal" or "average" I mean like Tera, working and having a boss/supervisor. Do you assume viewers would not be conflicted like Tera was? You may be right. Granted, it is only a guess, and perhaps a wild one, that many of the audience identified with Tera because she was in and outside of the club all at once. As you surmise, that could be a wrong guess and maybe there isn't any average viewer for this show.

Back to Zoebelle. Can anyone suggest the episode that confirms Zobelle ordered Weston to rape or that he certainly knew about it after? I remember their discussion about how they misjudged how tough Germma was when she didn't tell, but they didn't specifically talk about rape, did they? In other words, is it certain Zoebelle ordered rape and not something else? Is it certain Weston didn't get carried away with a "send a message" order? Maybe I missed those lines.

Dennis said...

Someone mentioned Lodi and CCR but no one mentioned that the song that opened and closed the show was a remake of CCR's "Someday Never Comes"; not sure who was singing it though.

As soon as I heard the first riff I knew the song but I knew it was a remake before I heard the vocals because the time was sped up just a little.

Maybe the Zoelle storyline gets wrapped up next week but even if it does, Hale showing up both times to thwart final acts of vengeance probably paints him as a guy who won't be as easily corrupted as was Unser. Then again, we didn't see how long it took to put Unser in pocket and we know that Hale was compromised earlier in the season. So, maybe it's just a device in order to finish the arc next week.

I think the Tara thing could conceivably work because Gemma had the discussion with her about finding her role and there was the coffee incident but somehow it just didn't work for me. I can understand that she's passionate enough about her job not to leave it's future to an open discussion and I know the hospital direction's been pushing her but it felt like a misstep to me.

Anyway, I still liked the show but I don't think it measured up to recent efforts.

Anonymous said...

As to Tara, we were given notice early on that she was part of the SoA lifestyle as a teenager, so this is not out of the blue. I do think her behavior was way over over-the-top - I mean really, this was a over-worked hospital administrator dealing with a budget, she is hardly on the level of Weston. And she didn't deserve to have her face bloodied and her children's lives threatened when less (just a threat) would have worked. So much for the doctor's code of "do no harm". ;)

The administrator had been given "just a threat" and it only prompted her to file more grievances on Tara. You gotta remember that Gemma had confronted her in the elevator.
This lady was hell-bent on ruining Tara, on a personal level as well as a professional level. Her arrogance and ego had to be completely deflated.
The scene might have been over the top, but in this context it was well played and will end any problem Tara is having at the hospital.
The club needs Tara to have access to her tools of the trade, this was a quick and decisive way to insure it.

Anonymous said...

After the brawl I was wondering if Jax and Opie were going to go visit Johnny in the hospital. It was basically the Outsiders rumble without the rain. For everyone that feels dissapointed by the episode, I think that this was to take a step back and in a way calm we the viewers down. I think that like SAMCRO we have become just a blood thirsty, but not taking the time to look at the big picture. I only started to watch this season, so I was prepared to ask for the back story with "Lem" and Tig. I am glad this wasn't something that I missed.

rhys said...

If SAMCRO had just executed all of Weston's crew on the spot, whitepower vengeance would have reined down on Charming. You think those are the only guys part of Weston's circle of hatred? No way. By challenging Weston to a straight fight - and forcing them to comply with the rules - if Jax had finished off Weston then there would not have been whitepower retaliation. They would have accepted that Weston voluntarily accepted the challenge and their would be no reason to retaliate for his death in a fair fight. With Weston done and his group no longer supporting Zobelle, SOA would be free to take down Zobelle without any retribution either. But Hale was on top of it and beat Jax to the punch.

Personally I enjoyed the episode. This isn't Mad Men Alan. Having an intense personal journey for multiple characters every episode would be extremely contrived. Just enjoy the visceral satisfaction of the whole thing.

Just Asking said...

rhys, you make some good points, but when the club went to kill Zobelle, Weston wasn't out of the picture yet, and in fact he went to jail because the club had two-fingers rat. So how could that plan work now? Wouldn't killing Zoebelle be the same as killing Weston outside of a fair fight? Or was Zoebelle already doomed for being a race traitor? But how could that be if he had a pipeline to sell dope in prison? Would the pipeline care how he got the heroin?

Brie said...

Brie, if/when you come back here, check the attitude or please go elsewhere.

Sorry, Alan. It wasn't my intent to give off attitude, and apologize if it came off that way. I like a spirited discussion but will temper my opinions to fit the rules of this blog from here on out.

Matthew said...

zzz - i like the way you broke it down, I loved your points - BOOM i'm sold (on tara having to go that far, i felt bad for margaret)

Anon after zzz - I believe Gemma considers her dangerous because of the position/role she plays at the crux of the two men, vis a vie, the IRA and SOA.

But then, it would be nice to find out Fiona was a proper mafiosa since we know she is true IRA heritage to her blood.

Just Asking: as to the clarity of orders on raping Gemma - I don't know if there were lines but I do know Weston was clearly conflicted about it... the it being the orders he was given to carry out. It was part of showing the ways zobelle's character uses dominance to exert control. He made weston do something he clearly did not want to do. That much I know were in the first couple episodes (well ep 2 i think)

medea said...

I can't believe people are so shocked at Tara standing up for herself. In the world of SAMCRO, what is so wrong about what she did? She didn't cut off anyone's genitals, or torch their tattoo, did she?
If you had a choice of being bullied by one of two ways: getting smacked around for 1 minute and coming out of it with a bloody nose or having someone ruin your career and blackball your name after having put in a decade of study and practice, which would you choose. I'll take the former, thanks. Maybe it's visually more alarming but a lot less harmful.
My only issue with what Tara did was that it was pretty unHippocratic. But as Juice reminded Jax 2 episodes ago, everything comes behind the Club, including one's career. Tara wasn't just saving her ass, she was saving the Club's reputation in Charming.

I honestly feel that a lot of the disgust for what Tara did comes from a somewhat misogynistic place. Charming is a scary and violent place, it's not real life. People offended by violence shouldn't watch.

soblogless said...

Thanks Matthew, re Fiona. (I was anon but just figured out how to post my "name". ) I thought there was maybe something personal with Gemma but what you said makes sense.

I also remember Weston being conflicted (if that's the word) about Gemma's gang rape, and that there was an understanding that Sobelle made the call. It really will be interesting to see what Sobelle's fate is next week, since Weston is the one with the pull behind the Arian Brotherhood. I also wonder with a previous poster if Otto gets vengeance here, too, since he believes Sobelle responsible for Luanne's death. (I've been surprised Luanne hasn't been mentioned in a couple of weeks, or that Georgie seemed to be off the hook for this in the SoA's eyes.)

Like I said, zzz did make me change my mind in so far as understanding why Tara felt she had to get violent. It wasn't that I was appalled at the violence as much as I felt like I couldn't identify with Tara as much. (And it seemed a bit contrived that Margaret would call Tara a "biker whore,", although that certainly gave the impetus for Tara snapping. I didn't think she went in there thinking she was going to hit her.)

(edit - I just read your post medea and I know my thoughts about Tara are not misogynistic - just the opposite. I have no problems with Gemma using a right-hook at the drop of a hat.)

It's funny because I just watched a Law and Order that I taped this week, where Olivia from SVU is a suspect in the murder of an outlaw biker. In that episode, the cops are the obviously the good guys, and their using deception and threats to turn other gang members to give information is applauded by the viewers. So much of it really is POV, and I again applaud the Sutter et al for making this a lot more complicated for us.

soblogless said...

Thanks Matthew, re Fiona. (I was anon but just figured out how to post my "name". ) I thought there was maybe something personal with Gemma but what you said makes sense.

I also remember Weston being conflicted (if that's the word) about Gemma's gang rape, and that there was an understanding that Sobelle made the call. It really will be interesting to see what Sobelle's fate is next week, since Weston is the one with the pull behind the Arian Brotherhood. I also wonder with a previous poster if Otto gets vengeance here, too, since he believes Sobelle responsible for Luanne's death. (I've been surprised Luanne hasn't been mentioned in a couple of weeks, or that Georgie seemed to be off the hook for this in the SoA's eyes.)

Like I said, zzz did make me change my mind in so far as understanding why Tara felt she had to get violent. It wasn't that I was appalled at the violence as much as I felt like I couldn't identify with Tara as much. (And it seemed a bit contrived that Margaret would call Tara a "biker whore,", although that certainly gave the impetus for Tara snapping. I didn't think she went in there thinking she was going to hit her.)

(edit - I just read your post medea and I know my thoughts about Tara are not misogynistic - just the opposite. I have no problems with Gemma using a right-hook at the drop of a hat.)

It's funny because I just watched a Law and Order that I taped this week, where Olivia from SVU is a suspect in the murder of an outlaw biker. In that episode, the cops are the obviously the good guys, and their using deception and threats to turn other gang members to give information is applauded by the viewers. So much of it really is POV, and I again applaud the Sutter et al for making this a lot more complicated for us.

soblogless said...

Thanks Matthew, re Fiona. (I was anon but just figured out how to post my "name". ) I thought there was maybe something personal with Gemma but what you said makes sense.

I also remember Weston being conflicted (if that's the word) about Gemma's gang rape, and that there was an understanding that Sobelle made the call. It really will be interesting to see what Sobelle's fate is next week, since Weston is the one with the pull behind the Arian Brotherhood. I also wonder with a previous poster if Otto gets vengeance here, too, since he believes Sobelle responsible for Luanne's death. (I've been surprised Luanne hasn't been mentioned in a couple of weeks, or that Georgie seemed to be off the hook for this in the SoA's eyes.)

Like I said, zzz did make me change my mind in so far as understanding why Tara felt she had to get violent. It wasn't that I was appalled at the violence as much as I felt like I couldn't identify with Tara as much. (And it seemed a bit contrived that Margaret would call Tara a "biker whore,", although that certainly gave the impetus for Tara snapping. I didn't think she went in there thinking she was going to hit her.)

(edit - I just read your post medea and I know my thoughts about Tara are not misogynistic - just the opposite. I have no problems with Gemma using a right-hook at the drop of a hat.)

It's funny because I just watched a Law and Order that I taped this week, where Olivia from SVU is a suspect in the murder of an outlaw biker. In that episode, the cops are the obviously the good guys, and their using deception and threats to turn other gang members to give information is applauded by the viewers. So much of it really is POV, and I again applaud the Sutter et al for making this a lot more complicated for us.

SoBlogless said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SoBlogless said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SoBlogless said...

Good grief - sorry for the multiple posts! I was trying to figure out how to make an account and didn't realize I was posting. (If the multiples could deleted much appreciated.)

Greg said...

From Sutter's Twitter:

"i loved sepinwall's review. he was right, i chose plot over nuance. and the tara scene was meant to create mixed emotions"

SoBlogless said...

"And it seemed a bit contrived that Margaret would call Tara a "biker whore,"

Meant to say when she called Gemma that.

And yes, I agree that Tara's actions were meant to cause mixed emotions and let us have the kind of discussion we've been having.

Just Asking said...

SOA is my only must-see-TV and that is because it gets so many people to thinking and talking. No work of art can ask for higher praise. Thanks to all for the comments and answers to my questions.

Tera. A baby rattlesnake is more dangerous than an adult because it cannot control its venom. Though Tara did not act out of character and does have some experience, she is out of practice and never had this much power. We know she went too far because she mentioned the Sons own the cops. Not good. Though she maybe had to go the rest of the way that is because she went too far to begin with, which leads us to Weston.

Sobelle. What if Sobelle did not order a rape? Sutter could have made that perfectly clear if he wanted to, but Weston could have had qualms about any attack on any woman. Was Sobelles's order to "Make her (and them) and offer than cannot refuse?" Did Weston overdo it? Was he a baby rattlesnake too? Did the hospital incident foreshadow what was to come with Weston and Zobelle in jail together?

Sutter's theme seems to be that power must be disciplined and tempered. Clay has been an example of how not to wield power. Will we see this in the season finale? Will everyone discover they too were too anxious for the murder of Zobelle and Polly?

Maybe. Maybe not. Sutter will probably surprise us one way or another.

Jersey said...

@Dennis
"Someone mentioned Lodi and CCR but no one mentioned that the song that opened and closed the show was a remake of CCR's "Someday Never Comes"; not sure who was singing it though."

Billy Valentine & The Forest Rangers

ScottyG said...

Tara beating up on the suit made me uneasy. As rude of that lady had been she's completely innocent and in most cases right. Bloodied up now, and with threats issued to her family, I feel terrible for her.

As much as Gemma is taking Tara under her wing, Tara isn't the type to beat people up

tdf said...

I enjoyed the episode but I thought they tried to do a little too much in it.

I did find it interesting that Weston and Zobelle ended up in prison, somewhere we know they have power. Could it be that these characters are going to be around longer than this season? And they're going to continue to cause problems for SAMCRO from prison in future seasons?

Old Uncle Dave said...

One point, maybe minor, but I'm a stickler. Many people are saying Zobelle and Weston are now in prison. Prison only happens after a trial and sentencing. Until then, they are in county jail - big difference from prison.

Chip said...

Loved the ep, someone above said after this whole season of SAMCRO being down and out it was great to see them on the offensive. I thought the Jimmy O business was handled a bit too easily, I at least wanted a line of dialog from Jax and/or Clay saying that if anything happens to Chibs wife/daughter he'll have problems with SAMCRO. As for the way they dealt with the League, they set up the fight with Weston because he did the actual raping and went straight for killing Zobelle because he masterminded it. Kinda like Bourne Supremacy when he goes after Karl Urban specifically and arranges for his bosses to be arrested. And as for the Tara debacle...this whole season has been the Tara&Gemma bonding hour, she's been groomed for this. I can buy her having a WWGD what would gemma do moment and flexing her SAMCRO muscle to get her way. Lest not forget they blew away Ima's car a couple weeks ago and it's not like we got a scene of them taking it to the SOA car shop...Finally thank Sutter for sparing Chuck! Great ep, the arrests are both cheap foils but necessary to keep things going for one more ep.

SoBlogless said...

"One point, maybe minor, but I'm a stickler. Many people are saying Zobelle and Weston are now in prison. Prison only happens after a trial and sentencing. Until then, they are in county jail - big difference from prison."

In California, you can also be (quickly) sent to prison if you are on parole and you violate. No trial, no collecting $200 when you pass Go. (Most felons are on parole when released from prison.) It does appear that Zobelle and Weston (and Polly) would be in jail, and I figured that in the preview, when Unser says something like, "I hope you two tear each other apart", he was talking to the two of them. But who knows.

A question about Unser - at the beginning of The Culling he is seen taking out some file that he apparently secreted underneath the blotter on his desk. Does anyone know what that's supposed to be?

Jersey said...

"A question about Unser - at the beginning of The Culling he is seen taking out some file that he apparently secreted underneath the blotter on his desk. Does anyone know what that's supposed to be?"

It was the ATF pictures of Zobelle and the Irish. The same ones that Stahl had shown Jax and Clay in prison and the ones the club showed Jimmy O later on in the Culling.

Anonymous said...

the file unser had stashed in his desk is the atf photos of zobelle with cameron & edmond which was later passed around to the guys to convince jimmy-o that the rat was in house.

SoBlogless said...

Thanks!

Justin said...

Re: Zobelle

Admitting to the drugs take him out of immediate danger of being executed by Clay, yes, but that doesn't make him safe.

He's almost certainly being taken to the jail where Weston is already stashed. And Weston is probably more than capable of killing Zobelle with just his hands.

And Unser wouldn't have any real problems making that happen.

Zobelle might be crafty enough to get out of that, or he might not.

Abhimanyu said...

Even though the (d)evolution from saint to sadistic thug felt rushed and out of character, I don't think that the scene with Tara was meant to be audience-rousing. What made you think that, Alan? I'm curious. I absolutely read it as a sinister manifestation of the club's effect on Tara. The darker side of being an old lady coming into evidence.

Anonymous said...

Two things - first, notice the public affirmation of Gemma's role - Clay refers to her as "My Queen". This follows the "private" affirmation (i.e., sex in the office) following her retelling of the attack from Weston. So, she was wrong in her opinion that he would move on, her being damaged goods.

Second, Clay's speech sounded eerily like something coming from David Koresh or any of the separatist leaders in the news in the last twenty years,

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the hospital scene with Tara, yes partially because the administrator is so easy to hate but also because it was an important step for Tara. The entire season we have seen here struggling with her role in Jax's world. While I predict she will realize that threatening someone's family doesn't play into the direction she and Jax want for SAMCRO, she, just as with Jemma, need to find that balance of the two worlds that are SAMCRO and reality. This struggle for balance is mirrored in each character who doesn't unquestionably believe in the current vision for the club. Jax, Opie (pre-donna' death), Piney and of course the memoir from his late Father. Tara's scene to me, exemplified her character's inability to be fierce, while still maintaining to the values lacking in SAMCRO, that Jax is trying to restore.
I really enjoyed this episode and can't wait to see what happens in the finale!

rhys said...

Unfortunately, most people don't really know how the criminal justice system works and realize that it works very slowly. People are confusing bail and parole. In order to revoke someone's bail you have to set a hearing with the court. Pretty much every courthouse is overcrowded and overworked, especially in areas like the Central Valley. Because of the court calendar, it usually takes months before a hearing is actually held. Also, the judge will not revoke bail just because some police officer gives a firsthand account of something he suspects was nefarious activity. You pretty much have to meet the legal requirement of probable cause. That basically means that in order to revoke someone's bail they'd have to have done something that would be enough to have gotten them arrested regardless of whether they were on bail. As a practical matter, revoking bail is generally just a formality used after someone has been arrested for another crime. The only other time it might happen is if it looks like the person is going to flee the jurisdiction or they fail to show up to their court hearings.

Keep in mind, someone on bail has not been convicted of anything, so they are still considered innocent. That's different from parole, which is after someone has been convicted and is still technically being punished for their crime. A lot of things which may have been legal before, are now illegal if you are on parole. If a police officer suspects someone has violated their parole they can arrest them on the spot for the independent crime of violating their parole. The police do not have that kind of liberty when someone is on bail. The only real condition of bail is that you show up to your court hearings, that's it. They are not being punished for anything because they have not been convicted yet.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice that, right before they left for the fight, clay kissed Gemma and seemed to say, "I love you Katie."

Anonymous said...

I totally was pumping my fists in the air seeing Tara school the admin lady, but it was quickly followed by a "Wait, that's terrible!" So for me, that moment was perfect, because I think we're meant to experience that feel good yet utterly horrifying moment at the same time.

I took the fight to mean the crew wants to torture them before eventually killing them. But I agree, it was a bit unbelievable that those scary strong loooking white crazies were losing a fistfight to the little worse for wear Samcro (before the cops showed up).

As for the final showdown - that was just dumb. I didn't understand why they wouldn't just cuff the two immediately and take them off somewhere outside of charming to kill/torture them. (Especially since the cops just busted them out in the woods a little while ago, you'd think they want to be more careful.) Instead they hung around the shop long enough for Hale to show up. DUMB. Then again, Samcro doesn't always make smart decisions sometimes, so perhaps the anger got ahead of them and they just weren't thinking straight.